With UCLA Football’s season on the horizon, it is time to take a look at each position for the Bruins. Up next is the outside linebacker position.
Of the experience that UCLA Football is returning on defense, perhaps the most crucial position unit of growth will be the linebacker position, particularly the outside linebackers.
The first starting outside linebacker is set to be rising junior Shea Pitts. Pitts transitioned from defensive back to linebacker last season and had some growing pains, ultimately playing in just five games and making 12 tackles.
Pitts’ growth in 2020 will be crucial. He clearly possesses the athleticism to be a difference-maker on defense, but his comfort level at the outside linebacker position will absolutely need to be better in order for the position to become an area of strength for UCLA. Of all the likely starters on defense for UCLA, Pitts is the x-factor.
Starting opposite Pitts at the outside OLB position will be rising senior Leni Toailoa. Toailoa played in 11 games last season, making a total of 33 tackles, including seven for a loss. Toailoa also had 2.5 sacks. One of the best returning players on defense for the Bruins, Toailoa’s play in his senior season will be the catalyst for the linebacker group as a whole. If he can build on last season, the Pitts could have the opportunity for a big season with more attention going to Toailoa.
Of the linebacker group, Toailoa might be the best returning player. With him alongside Pitts, this group has the opportunity for the most growth from last season in 2020.